BURGAW – The word, “Struggle” is defined in the Roget’s Thesaurus with such a variety of words – effort, labor, toil, grapple, and wrestle along with several others – and it’s hard to pinpoint just one definition when it come s to the Pender High School wrestling program, so maybe the best way to discuss what has occurred in the past is to mix-and-match until you come up with one that suits you best.
The biggest struggle has been coming up with enough wrestlers to fill the 14 weight classes, thus avoiding giving up a plethora of points via the forfeit route. Coach Dave Hannah has had some very good wrestlers in the program who have done well in the larger individual meets on the weekends, and who have advanced to the 1A state meet, but the program has not generated enough interest to complete the lineup cycle.
This year, however, could be a little different as Hannah indicated, “We’ve got numbers, we’ll just have to wait and see if we can keep them.”
Hannah welcomes back five guys back with varsity experience and he remains optimistic well acknowledging a lack of overall experience.
“The group has a willingness to learn but there are so many new guys technical knowledge will be gained on the fly,” Hannah said. We have kids out from other sports and activities (football and soccer as well as several from JROTC), and several are strong kids and they are just beginning to realize that wrestling is a good way to stay active and gain much needed strength, stamina, and discipline.”
Hannah did single out the five returning wrestlers – Daniel Brigman, Eathan Horrell, Ben Avila-Wheeler, D. J. Smith, and R. J. Corbett – as the foundation for this year’s much-hoped-for success.
“Daniel is a solid wrestler with experience and he will be a leader on this team,” Hannah said. “Eathan took his lumps last year but with a year of experience we are looking for him to build on that.
“Ben has a great motor that doesn’t stop and he will look to fight his way to several victories in the lower weight classes. D. J. is a stocky, muscular kid with a low center of gravity. He wrestled well last year in his first year, and we are looking for continued growth this year. R. J. comes from a similar JROTC background to D. J., and he will be a tough pin for any matchup.”
The Patriots will open their season with a dual meet on Tuesday (Nov. 27) at 4A New Hanover. The wrestling schedule, at press time, was still being worked on so the next listed match (at this time) is on Dec. 17 at home against East Duplin.